History of Fireworks

Interesting Facts about Fireworks

History is full of important events and celebrations and it seems fireworks accompany most of them, at least in last centuries…

Fireworks at Victoria Day

1. Fireworks were invented in China. A legend says a cook accidently spilled some saltpeper (sometimes us as spice) on fire and was fascinated with colors of the produced flames. Later it was discovered saltpeper, sulphur and coal in enclosed space (for instance in a bamboo stick) explode and around 6th century China already used this knowledge in wars. The same idea was used at celebrations, especially for New Years, just not against enemies, but to scare evil spirits.

independence day san diego

2. One of main beauties of fireworks are different colors of their sparkles. Color comes from ions changing energetic states from higher to lower while releasing some energy in the form of light. Every ion can be credited for different color (or shade) and here are some ions with corresponding colors:

  • aluminium (or magnesium or titanium) … silver / so called electric white
  • barium (chloride) … green (in this case color comes from chloride)
  • calcium (chloride) … orange
  • cesium (chloride) … indigo blue
  • copper (chloride) … blue (this color is hardest to achieve)
  • lithium (carbonate) … red
  • potassium (nitrate) … purple
  • sodium (nitrate) … gold / yellow
  • strontium (carbonate) … red (brighter than lithium)

While chemistry and physics behind pyrotechnics can be quite complicated, many fascinating effects can be achieved with relatively simple but clever planning. Blue for instance can be problematic because the salt (copper chloride) is unstable at high temperatures and the color is hardly visible at lower temperatures.

fireworks yokota

3. Approximately nine out of ten fireworks still come from China, which is by far largest supplier in the world. Business with fireworks is worth about one billion (thousand millions) dollars in USA only. There are several fireworks competitions held every ear all over the world. World Pyro Olympics in Manila, Phillipines, is probably the most prestigious of all.

consumer firework

4. When you are dealing with fireworks, you should always think about safety first. Even static electric of syntetic clothes can make them explode. About half of injuries related to fireworks are among younger than 15 years. Don’t forget pets which are much more sensitive to noise than people, and pollution of the air! Some modern fireworks use compressed air instead of gunpowder.

catherine wheels fireworks


5. Fire is traditionally and symbolicaly an element for getting rid of the old and making space for new. New Year, important milestones (think about Independence Day in USA or fall of Bastille in France) in the history of specific country or personal achievements (like marriage or promotion) are typically related to fireworks.


All used images are in public domain!

Take care!